Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors


Department of German and Russian

First Advisor

Dennis Mahoney


Poetry, German, Translation, Rilke, Sonnets


This Honors Thesis Project is a translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus, a collection of 55 poems written over a period of about three weeks in 1922. The sonnets were written as a “grave-monument” to Wera Ouckhama Knoop, a young family friend of the poet’s, and they address youth and early death through allusions to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, ancient civilizations, and other themes. The translation is an attempt to convey the original language of the sonnets without intentionally considering the rhyme and meter of the German poems, as well as using square brackets to indicate certain embedded clauses. A more in-depth explanation of these aspects, as well as several others included in this new approach to translating this work, is provided in the Introduction.